Ralph David Abernathy III dies after bout with cancer

Over at Channel 2 Action News, Mark Winne reports that former state Sen. Ralph David Abernathy III, son of the famed civil rights leader, has died after a long battle with liver cancer.

The son was enormously protective of the legacy of his father, Ralph David Abernathy Jr. Below are a few paragraphs from an article my AJC colleague Ernie Suggs wrote last month about efforts to preserve the elder Abernathy’s original West Hunter Street Baptist Church in Atlanta:

Close to Abernathy’s and King’s homes, the church was an easy meeting place that also served as headquarters for several organizations and civil rights leaders and as a training facility for nonviolence.

“West Hunter was the spiritual workplace of the movement,” said Abernathy’s son, Ralph David Abernathy III. “A lot of important events that can’t be ignored or forgotten took place there.”

Abernathy III, who is fighting his own dark battles, has been trying to make sure that history and his father are not forgotten.

In January, those efforts got a boost when the National Park Service announced official plans to begin exploring the possibility of making the old West Hunter Street Baptist Church a National Historic Site.

If selected, the church could become part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. It would be only the fourth National Park Site in metro Atlanta – following the MLK site, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

The younger Abernathy left the Legislature in 1998 under a cloud, but we reconnected last year, when “Selma” came out. He felt the movie shortchanged his father’s role as Martin Luther King Jr.’s partner. Read it here:

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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.